Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Cumming, 30 December 1767

From Thomas Cumming6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Surry Street, Decr. 30th. [17677]

Thos. Cumming presents his best Respects to his worthy Friend Doctor Franklin, and begs Leave to introduce to his Notice the Bearer, who is canvassing for the Place of Library-Keeper to the Royal Society.8 The Doctor will be presented with a Book of that Gentleman’s, which if it has been already read by the Doctor, Cumming may save himself the Trouble of saying any Thing on Behalf of the Author’s Learning or Integrity, &c. If the Dr. has not yet read it, C. requests he may, and then act in Regard to his Friend, as he may be thought to deserve. C. begs his best Respects to the Doctor’s good Landlady.

Addressed: To / Doctor Benjn. Franklin / Craven Street,

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For Thomas Cumming (d. 1774), a “sensible Quaker” merchant of London, at this time agent for the Mississippi Co. of Va., see above, X, 345–6 n.

7The year is established by the dismissal of Emanuel Mendes da Costa as clerk and assistant secretary of the Royal Society in December 1767 and the appointment, Jan. 7, 1768, of John Robertson in his place with the additional title, according to London Chron., Jan. 12–14, 1768, of “Librarian or Housekeeper.”

8Since Cumming does not name his candidate here, it is impossible to say whether he was the successful applicant. If he was, then Cumming was introducing to BF, who was a member of the Royal Society’s Council, John Robertson (1712–1776), a mathematician of distinction. Among his considerable writings the chief was The Elements of Navigation, perhaps the work to which Cumming referred in this letter, “which appeared in 1754 and went through seven editions in fifty years.” DNB.

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